Playing hurt, dead in fake plane crash
EAGLE – The wind suddenly changed from a headwind to a tailwind, knocking the Boeing 757 carrying 182 passengers into the patchy grass beside the Eagle County Airport runway.The plane, traveling from Austria via Toronto, split in two during impact. Some of the 4,700 pounds of fuel onboard exploded into flames.Within minutes, airport firefighters sprayed down the two fiery halves, drenching the outside then attacking the fire in the cabin where I sat with 15 injured passengers.The majority of the other passengers sat in the other half of the plane half or were ejected in the crash. The ejected people lay in the grass and under the plane, some suffering massive head wounds, broken bones and others dead.It was a crash drill designed by airport officials Wednesday to test the preparedness of over 100 emergency personnel throughout the valley. The airport is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to test every three years.The havoc continues as a firefighter enters our cabin – actually an old bus – to the screams of the 16 passengers. The man in the oxygen mask got to me first.
“What’s wrong with you?” the firefighter said.Before the drill began, I’d been given a card with symptoms to act out. The card read “Large facial laceration, severe neck and back pain, shortness of breath, fractured leg.””Ahhhh,” I moaned in pain. “Blood in my eyes. Back and neck really hurt. My leg might be broken.”He pulls me from the gnarled metal that used to be a plane and sets me on the tarmac beside the wreckage. A young woman soon follows, howling in agony as contractions wrack her womb three months early.Each passenger’s wounds were assessed and prioritized. Colored tags – green, yellow, red and black – symbolizing the severity of injuries were hung from each person’s neck. Black essentially means death.”If you’re the one doing triage, you’re playing god,” a man tagging people said. “You decide who lives and who dies.”The pregnant woman, actually Kaylee Brennand and not actually pregnant, cried for herself and her baby, whom she decided to name Tarmac after sitting on the asphalt for so long waiting for help.Firefighters carried red-tagged passengers to another area for medical care. The firefighters stabilized my injured neck, rolled me on my side, slid a backboard underneath and carefully laid me down.Then they loaded me onto a four wheeler for a short ride to get medical care. Back on the ground I moaned and complained about my injuries a bit more. A nice woman named Nancy grabbed my hand, consoling me.I never found out whether I lived or died – I was released from my role of victim before anyone told me my fate.The victims all seemed to relish their time playing hurt, or dead in some cases.”It’s fun because I get to play,” Brennand said. “And it’s playing for good cause. I like my emergency personnel to be prepared and this is the only way it will happen.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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Lindsey Vonn no longer has a home in Vail, but a big piece of her heart will always remain here.